Philanthropist Dawn M. Greene Passes Away at 88

Dawn M. Greene
Dawn M. Greene. (Eileen Barroso)

New York City and Columbia University lost a forward-looking philanthropist with the passing of Dawn M. Greene ’08HON on August 30. Mrs. Greene, who was president and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, was 88 years old.

Mrs. Greene continued a tradition of philanthropy in education, the arts, and medicine begun by her late husband, Jerome L. Greene ’26CC, ’28LAW, a prominent New York lawyer and real-estate investor who died in 1999. In total, the Greene family and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation have given nearly $300 million to the University.

In 2006, Dawn M. Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation made a gift to Columbia that was the largest ever to a U.S. university for a single facility — $250 million to support the construction of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, where, through the University’s Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative, neuroscientists and researchers from a wide variety of other disciplines will collaborate to study how the brain’s mechanisms relate to high-level functions such as memory, self-awareness, language, and emotion. The center is being designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and will be the first building constructed at Columbia’s Manhattanville development.

“Dawn was a visionary who established as her top priority support for the study of mind, brain, and behavior, because she saw it as the most compelling intellectual challenge of the 21st century,” says President Lee C. Bollinger.

In 2008, Dawn M. Greene received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Columbia.

Prior to Jerome L. Greene’s death, the Greene family gave many donations to Columbia. These included the naming gift for Jerome L. Greene Hall, which is the primary home of the law school, as well as gifts for endowed scholarships for law students, an endowed professorship in transactional law, and the Jerome L. Greene Fund for Clinical Education at the law school.

In the past decade, Dawn M. Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation have also given Columbia major donations for a state-of-the-art laboratory at the Mailman School of Public Health, the endowment of the John Snow Professorship in Epidemiology at Mailman, and the Jerry I. Gliklich Professorship of Cardiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“Dawn served as a close friend and counsel to many of us at Columbia and she was an irreplaceable partner in building Columbia University into the world’s center of new knowledge,” Bollinger says. “Her impact across Columbia’s campuses at Morningside Heights, our law school, Columbia University Medical Center, and now Manhattanville is lasting and so large as to defy easy description. We will miss her deeply, even as we rededicate ourselves to fulfilling her vision in the years ahead.”

A native New Yorker, Mrs. Greene was an avid theatergoer and arts patron. She was a graduate of Fordham University in sociology with a master’s degree in social work, and she served on the boards of Planned Parenthood of New York City and the nonprofit Inwood House.

Mrs. Greene is survived by her daughter, Christina McInerney, and her granddaughter, Margaret Williams ’05LAW.